“The World Youth Rhino Summit has been one of the most inspiring and eye-opening experiences I’ve ever been part of. I learned so much about rhino poaching, standing up for something I believe in and how I can help. I am definitely going to go home and share my knowledge.”
Monhé van der Walt, South Africa
Dr Ian Player is one of the most revered and outstanding conservationists in the world. Born in South Africa in 1927, he has been at the forefront of conservation. He pioneered the world renowned Operation Rhino which saved the white rhino from extinction. Ian Player also founded the Wilderness Leadership School, the first in Africa, dedicated to providing a pure wilderness experience for people of all backgrounds, races and nationalities. Started during the troubled days of apartheid, this multi-racial education and experiential programme spawned a global network of conservationists from all sectors of life who are committed to saving wilderness and wildlife.
Chris Galliers is the National Biodiversity Programme Manager for WESSA (the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa) (http://www.wessa.org.za/) who for 85 years, has proactively engaged with the challenges and opportunities presented by South Africa’s unique natural heritage and the social and economic systems that depend on it. Chris is also Chairman of the Game Rangers Association of Africa (GRAA), founded in 1970 as a non-racial, non-political organisation.
Ted Reilly is the father and icon of conservation in Swaziland. After working as a ranger and warden in Sabi Sands (South Africa) and helping in Operation Noah (the rescue and relocation of wildlife out of the Zambezi Valley during the building of Lake Kariba between Zambia and Zimbabwe 1958-1964) he returned to Swaziland to find wildlife in the country decimated.
Since then, Ted Reilly and his team of 300 staff have expanded the protected area network and successfully reintroduced 22 large wild animal species into the country, including lion, elephant, rhino and hippo. However, he didn’t stop there, he then went on to draft the Game Act, a highly effective piece of conservation legislation, which was approved by King Mswati III and passed into law by Parliament.
From 1992 to 2011, no rhino were poached in Swaziland – an unmatched record in rhino range states.
George Mbatha is the senior ranger at Hlane Royal National Park and has been serving the Big Game Parks for many years. He is a fearless ranger who is famous for his successful record and outstanding courage in confronting armed poachers that come his way and threaten the safety of the park’s precious wildlife!
He is not only a dedicated conservationist but is also well known for leading the Hlane Sibhaca (traditional dancing) team with his rhythmic beating on huge cattle-skin drums. George is also a very gifted storyteller and given a fire on a late night, he will have you enthralled by the tales of dodging bullets and other crazy experiences he has had.
Dr William Fowlds is a qualified vet who dedicates his time to championing the plight of the rhino through his veterinary and awareness initiatives. He is truly gone above and beyond for the issues he passionately believes in.
Dr Fowlds championed the rhino crisis by documenting a poaching attack on three rhinos at the Kariega game reserve in the Eastern Cape in March 2012. Two died and Dr Fowlds documented the story of the slow rehabilitation of one of the three rhinos who survived this attack, as a means to raise awareness around anti-poaching and the illegal rhino horn trade. These emotional accounts have prompted media from around the world to convey the tragedy falling the magnificent rhino. He has partnered with Investec in the form of Investec Rhino Lifeline to enable him to increase his work in rescue, education & awareness and prevention of poaching at both protection and demand reduction sides of the crisis.
Dr Paula Kahumbu is a world renowned wildlife conservationist and executive director of Nairobi-based NGO WildlifeDirect (http://wildlifedirect.org/) and the Kenyan Land Conservation Trust (http://www.africanconservation.org/explorer/kenya-land-conservation-trust-klct) as well as being the chairperson of the Friends of Nairobi National Park.
Being born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya Dr Kahumbu has always been close to the plight of endangered wildlife and began her conservation efforts at the peak of the elephant poaching crisis in the late 1980s. As well as being mentored by her neighbour and legendary conservationist Richard Leaky, she has always had a strong passion and foothold in all issues pertaining to threatened wildlife species.
Dr Kahumbu is of the opinion that we need more conservationists in the world as she believes that they are fast becoming an endangered species themselves.
Sifiso Keswa wears many caps, but foremost he is the general manager at Ezemvelo KwaZulu Natal Wildlifd (http://www.ezemvelo.co.za/) and a member of the South African Wildlife Management Association. He was also appointed as a member of the Local Organising Committee for the Fourth International Wildlife Management Congress held in July 2012 in Durban, South Africa. He participated in the review and shortlisting of abstract submissions as a scientific sub-committee member.
Currently Sifiso is responsible for Ezemvelo’s People and Conservation Unit and provision of strategic leadership at Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.